Spirit and Permanence

June 28, 2010

The permanence of God’s presence increases through redemptive history.  After the Fall, God’s presence is often sporadic and isolated.  The tabernacle provides a temporary and nomadic home for God.  The cloud descends on the tent when Israel is to camp in a particular place, and the cloud ascends and moves when Israel is begin another journey.  The temple assumes a greater degree of permanence for God’s presence among the people.  His presence is tied to the land and to a building.  All this is of course foreshadowing of Christ who “tabernacled” among us.  He is the new temple, the structure who is God.  Likewise, through the Spirit’s indwelling we become temples individually and stones in the temple corporately.  God’s presence in us is the near-climax of God’s permanent presence.  Our temples are buried in death, but they will be resurrected.  In this life, our bodies offer greater permanence for the presence of God than the tabernacle and the temple.  And God’s presence is closer in this epoch, then He was for Adam and Eve, who, if they partook of the Spirit, only partook in impermanent ways such as through the eating of the trees.  In fact it could be argued that the partaking of the tree of life was partaking of Christ, while partaking of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was partaking of the Spirit, and this latter infraction was a premature pentecost.  Even the garden looked forward to the intimacy and permanence of God’s relationship with us in this epoch of redemptive history.

Advertisements

A Fundamental Mercy

June 24, 2010

I have yet to serve a poor person in the United States whose poverty is not rooted in their temporal father’s failings.  This is because their heavenly Father is communicated through their temporal father in the most elemental and formative ways.

Prevention of many poverties, including financial, starts in the home.  Solutions to all poverty are found in Triune community.

…except secondarily.  Worship is too easily made impersonal; it too easily assumes some kind of distance.  The Triune life is not fundamentally marked by “worship” but love.  The Father doesn’t worship the son.  I don’t worship my wife.

Life is about love.  Worship, praise, liturgies, sacrifices, services,  songs, etc. all flow out of love.

Integral Love

April 26, 2010

When you claim love for someone, the integrity of your love can be determined with a simple test.  Weak love for an individual reciprocates their unloving actions and feelings with resentment or anger.  Integral, selfless love loves in spite of the recipient’s reciprocation.  In other words, because my expectations for my children’s response to me is limited by their youth, if they act out against me, even if they were to deny loving me at all, this would initiate my response of pursuit, humility, and more love for them.  Their lack of affection is not reciprocated.

With adults, however, it is difficult to maintain this same selflessness.  If someone is angry with me, if our relationship falls apart for whatever reasons, then it is very easy to let them go, to let them have their way- if I don’t really love them.  I don’t care as much to pursue them.  This is because my love for them does not emulate God’s love for me

According to James Jordan human life passes through three phases:  Learner, Warrior, and Elder.  They correspond respectively to grammar, logic, and rhetoric.  The ages are roughly 0-30, 30-60, and 60 on.

Learner’s must learn.  Warriors war under elders.  Elders communicate and rule with the knowledge and experience of Learners and Warriors.  (Rite Reasons, No. 40)

It’s interesting that he notes the change from “warrior” to elder for a woman is precipitated by menopause.  For men, of course, it is precipitated by gray hair.

It could be argued that phase one is catechetical, in terms of both knowledge accumulated in the mind and practiced in the family.  Phase two is certainly conducive to the duties of a biblically holistic diaconate.  Phase three is indisputably the arrival of a man to eldership.

Oligarchies Aren’t

April 22, 2010

A Committee, in theory, offers the safety of multiple perspectives.  It is a governmental assurance that the wisdom of “an abundance of counselors” will be brought to bear on decisions.  It guards against the implicit concern of the proverb alluded to- a man without counselors is foolish.

But there is a difference between a body of counselors and an oligarchy.  In other words, committee’s are bad at operations and good at policy.  Every effective corporation knows this.  There are no great, for-profit companies, for a limited example, that are run by a committee of several CEO’s.  It would be ludicrous.  Who would you fire for a bad decision?  Are all the members equally culpable?  Must they be in assembly to make decisions?  Isn’t one of them really running the show, in spite of their plurality?  If they apologize to an employee, who delivers the apology?  Is it recited in unison, passed along through a secretary?  Who bears responsibility?

The strength of the committee is in its collective counsel to individuals (kings, pastors, bishops, CEOs, presidents, headmasters, etc) who make decisions, bear responsibility, and give an account.

But federal headship is inescapable, as much as every man would love to escape it.

Infants

April 22, 2010

“…the infant has a need which is not simply biological but personal, a need to be in touch with the mother, and in conscious perceptual relation with her.  And it is astonishing at what an early age a baby cries not because of any physiological distress, but because he has noticed that he is alone, and is upset by his mother’s absence.” (Persons, p. 49)

“…the baby is not an animal organism, but a person, or in traditional terms, a rational being.  The reason is that his life, and even his bodily survival, depends upon intentional activity, and therefore upon knowledge.  If nobody intends his survival and acts with intention to secure it, he cannot survive.”

Arguments against abortion that articulate a concern for what a “fetus” might become turn my stomach something terrible.  It is not rationality, size, vocation, contribution, or anything else which makes a human baby worth saving.  It is precisely the opposite.  Our weakness and our dependence on others (especially in the womb!), is the defining attribute of humanity.  Weakness is human, and the child in the womb is weakest of all.

Ian Suttie

April 22, 2010

As quoted in John MacMurray’s Persons in Relation:  “…the human infant is less like an animal than the human adult.”

Tolkien’s Personalism

April 21, 2010

“My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs) — or to ‘unconstitutional’ Monarchy. I would arrest anybody who uses the word State (in any sense other than the inanimate realm of England and its inhabitants, a thing that has neither power, rights nor mind); and after a chance of recantation, execute them if they remain obstinate!… Government is an abstract noun meaning the art and process of governing and it should be an offence to write it with a capital G or so as to refer to people… The most improper job of any man, even saints, is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity.” –(J.R.R. Tolkien, Letters 52, HT:  Dr. McIntosh)

What’s interesting here is not some kind of anarchist theory, but rather, Tolkien’s disenchantment with government as a theory.  He’s not inclined to Anarchism as a political theory, so much as he is disinclined to the idea of government in the abstract, impersonal, and semi-deified sense.  He’s a localist, non-constitutional monarchist.

The modern nation-state has at least temporarily accomplished the ideal of every king- to make his reign eternal (through hereditary succession or the less practicable deification)- and this by means of abstracting government through ruling documents and practicing government through pluralities of people, which only change very gradually, cannot be easily addressed, and cannot take personal responsibility for their decisions.

Presbyterians, by the way, must be on guard for the same impersonalist temptations.

James Jordan: “Common sense led the early church to set aside some older pastors as bishops, who pastored the local pastors.  This is such an obvious and such a Biblical system that it is amazing that anyone should question it…Indeed, nobody did at the time of the Reformation.  In the Scottish Presbyterian Church, for instance, such older pastors were called Superintendents, and they had the same duties as a true bishop in the early church.  Sadly, Presbyterianism degenerated into a sytem of having a “corporate bishop” in the presbytery as a whole, a system that is ineffectual because it is bureaucratic.” (Rite Reasons, No. 40, Biblical Horizons)

Ineffectual, yes, and also impersonal.

Diaconate

April 1, 2010

The fundamental orientation of the deacon is one of service and assistance to an apostle.  They were ordained to particular works in Acts 6, but the role was centered on the relationship between apostle and “servant” not any particular job description.  Deacons, we should not be surprised, are filling the role of Levites who assisted priests (II Chronicles 29:34).  Paul calls Timothy a deacon.  Epaphroditus and Tychicus serve Paul in the same way.  Furthermore, in Phil. 1 and I Timothy 3 we are told nothing about what deaons are supposed to do beyond the general meaning of the word (servant).  In these passages the diaconate is positioned as a place in the hierarchy of local church government.   Look at Philippians 1:

1Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers[a] and deacons…

This passage describes at least four church bodies:  “Paul and Timothy”, “all the saints”, “overseers”, and “deacons”.  It should be noted that “servants” is more precisely “slaves”, and “deacons” is of course the Greek word for “servant”.

So, there are three offices listed: apostle/pastor, overseers, and deacons.

Exposing Infants

April 1, 2010

What if every one of the 500+ babies who are aborted in our community were left exposed on the side of the road instead of being murdered in abortion clinics.  How might our priorities change?

There is ultimately only love of neighbor.  And love must seek eternal mercy.

Hell

March 12, 2010

The most funamental mercy that can ever be extended to a needy soul and which must also always govern the priorities and practices of mercy is the proclamation of the gospel in words. It is true that mercy is “preaching” the gospel, in a sense.  But not in the sense that it will save people from the flames of Hell.

Deacon

January 29, 2010

What is a deacon?  Let me exercise the principles of isigesis to start the discussion:

Acts 6:  Deacons are supposed to serve tables

Acts 6:  Deacons are not preachers of the Word

Acts 7: Deacons are preachers of the Word

Acts 8: Deacons are evangelists

Acts8: Deacons baptize people (and teleport!)

Acts 8: Deacons are exorcists

I Timothy: Deacons don’t necessarily do anything

“Deacon” means messenger,  assistant, servant, waiter

Edmund Clowney thinks Acts 6 might be referring to elders, since the gifts for the poor are conveyed by Paul and Barnabas to the elders in Acts 11:30

This is harder than I expected.

My cousin, Joe Barnard, concludes in his excellent study on Acts 6, that “one cannot deduce that giving up the ministry of the word in Acts 6:4 is synonymous with the activity of preaching the word.”  I think Stephen and Philip were counting on this being the case.

He also says, “…a biblical diaconate might look very similar to the traditions of the post-apostolic church.”

This is an observation that provokes some humility.  I’d like to add to it that the Baptist view of the diaconate looks an awful lot like the expectatios of the high churches.

So, all of my fresh and eager research has returned results amounting to the observation that the high church and Baptists have some real insights.

December 24, 2009

Pinings of a displaced Louisiana boy.

All I want for Christmas is…

Franch fries and ‘bita beer,
gravy and hawt sauce,
I’m sheddin’ a tear,
for the food i’ve loss’.

Poboys wif scrimp,
and dat etouffee,
make you stroll wid a limp,
and “slap ya mama,” say.

I miss doze muddy crawfish,
and grillades and grits,
What I gotta do to get a soggy gumbo dish,
-beside my fried softshell and crumbly bits.

I needs sompin’ with Mayo,
and more o’ dat spice,
It needs come from the bi-oh,
and shouldn’t be nice.

Put the butter in my roux,
It’s time for a cajun jubilee!
I’m tired of healthy foo-
and want some greasy goods, me.

The Indwelling Spirit

December 18, 2009

Contrary to the view that the Spirit dwells in the Church “body”  vs. an individual’s body, I offer Paul’s remarks to the church corporate which take the first person.  Gal. 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God…”  That being said the previous post qualifies this one.  One man with the Spirit indwelling is a poorer reflection of the Trinity than two men who both have the one Spirit.

God is Love

December 18, 2009

What?  How can God be an abstraction?  He can’t be.  God is love because He loves.  He loves Himself.  Which would be selfish if He weren’t triune.  God is one God and a community of three persons forever loving one another.  We were created in this image.  So, we are not fundamentally Homo Sapiens or “wise man.”  As Schmemman said, we are Homo Adorans.  He interprets this as “man worshipping.”  I don’t know the limits of a word like adorans, but it seems to me that if God is love, then man is Homo Adorans, intrerpreted as “man adoring” or “man loving.”  Worship flows out of love.  So does compassion for our fellow man.

Slavery

December 4, 2009

Human Trafficking

December 4, 2009

There are 14,500-17,500 people trafficked into the U.S. from overseas and enslaved each year.  The conviction rate for this crime is less than 1%.

Compassion

December 3, 2009

Luke 23:34

And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.

Jesus Christ is the greatest victim in history and the only truly innocent victim of injustice, because He was the only innocent person in history.  If the right response on the cross is compassion for Jesus’ tormentors, then how much more is c0mpassion the directive for us in the “injustices” we suffer at the hands of our typical tormentors- spouses, co-workers, roommates, the state*, our churches, in-laws, etc.

To suffer injustice is a weak emulation of Christ, but an emulation nonetheless.  To suffer injustice while feeling genuine compassion for your tormentors gets us closer to our Lord’s example.

Stephen knew this to be true:

Acts 7:54-60

54 When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. 55 But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, 56 and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”
57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; 58 and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Paul also offers compassion beyond my capacity, and this to the apostate people of God who crucified his Savior: ” For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh…”  Romans 9:3

Let’s agree that our standard for compassion is low.

*It should be noted that impersonalities cannot receive compassion, but the lady behind the desk at the DMV can.

Arbinger Brilliance

December 1, 2009

C. Terry Warner of the Arbinger Institute:  “Victims are victimizers.  When we make ourselves to be victims of others, we are accusing them of victimizing us.  We are making them appear the guilty ones.  In reality, we are victimizing them.”

I have yet to meet someone with a victimhood complex who has not left a trail of broken relationships in their wake.  The perpetual victim is self-righteous.  They are constantly fueling a martyr identity, which is the center of their being.  This particular complex is not fundamentally different than the self-righteous hero complex.  The difference is that the hero is centered on some apparent strength, but the weak find no refuge in strength.  The weak need martyrdom.  In true martyrdom, weakness is, in fact, powerful.  Giving the strong what they want, turning the other cheek- even to the death, disrobes their power in all it’s this-worldly futility.  Attacking a man in his weakness, and continuing without his defense, makes the attacker to be cruel, unrelenting, and cowardly. There is power in weakness.

But, the weak have a fallacious version of this true strength in weakness by virtue of its false construction- they aren’t victims.  Nor are they the center of any universe.  But Jesus is the center of the universe, and He welcomes a spiritual union with the weak (or the strong) if they are willing to accept His true martydom once and for all, and His daily martyrdom to self.  The irony of self-justification is that it isn’t.  Justification is accessible, but only at the death of self.

Dalrymple

November 24, 2009

The intellectual’s dilemma: “The intellectual’s struggle to deny the obvious is never more desperate than when reality is unpleasant and at variance with his preconceptions and when full acknowledgment of it would undermine the foundations of his intellectual worldview.”

November 23, 2009

My wife, my crown-

Weakness demands service,

Returning strength and irony to your being.

Ruling with the melting touch of silver,

and winning by persuasions of beauty, mercy and forgiveness-

Force superfluous.

Strength confusing, sacrificial, warm-

you weaken my knees and strengthen my hands.

Localism

November 21, 2009

Sometimes I don’t buy local.  Captive labor in a communist nation can produce things so much cheaper than producers on the Palouse.  But maybe I should buy locally anyway.  If I don’t buy locally then I won’t be serving people I can actually know through my purchases.  Maybe commerce shouldn’t be reduced to the lesson I learned in Econ. 101:  “The person who can produce whatever should be producing whatever if he can do it the cheapest and best.”  Sure, if you grant the assumption in such a statement- ultimate value in commerce is about me getting the highest possible value for my expenditure.  But what if you start with a different assumption, like- Love your neighbor.  If my neighbor produces apples for $10 a pound, and I can get them online for $5 a pound, then don’t I actually need to weigh the value of relational commerce against simplistic, monetary value?  Love needs to be factored in to economics some way so that it is part of the determined value of a product.  Love will simplify a multitude of economic complications.

Economics

November 21, 2009

Free market economics and the modern nation-state are mutually exclusive enterprises.  Free markets require the free movement of not only money but also labor.  Nation-states control the movement of their populations across borders.  Thus, insofar as a nation-state limits the free movement of labor across its borders we are unable to claim anything close to a free market economy.  We can have strong borders, necessary for the traditional understanding of a strong nation, or we can have weak borders and free market economics.

Book Review

November 20, 2009

Life at the Bottom by Theodore Dalrymple is a fantastic read.  Dalrymple is a psychiatrist working among the British underclass.  His statistical and anecdotal evidence of liberalism’s gut-wrenching failure and gut-sickening hubris is condemning on many fronts.  Dalrymple leaves the blame largely at the door of academia.  It is certainly from the fertile manure of notable universities that many an entangling and thorny vine of bad policy has found root.  The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.

But, the universities don’t operate in a vacuum.  They were started by Christians, and for hundreds of years they were run by and filled with God’s people.  Ideas have consequences, but ideas require minds.  And minds are the jurisdiction of the church, for only Jesus Christ can renew them, mold them, and guide them.  If the reigning solution to society’s problems are based on such falsities as egalitarianism and nonjudgmentalism,  then shouldn’t the first questions be: “Was the church hierarchy privileged beyond biblical basis?  Or was the English church too comfortable with economic and racial castes?  Was the church condemning and moralistic?  Does not law and petty scruple breed the false solutions of liberal democracy?”

If responsibility does not lie with the church, then solutions do not either.

Book Review

October 16, 2009

For a fair and pastoral review of The Subversion of Christianity see Pastor Toby Sumpter’s blog.

Jacques Ellul made me proud of my low church heritage.  Ellul, you see,  grates against my presumptious high-mindedness, not unlike a cheese grater.  I have viewed my worldview, my theology, the coherence of my views as a really fine round of Cougar Gold cheddar- clean out of the can, shiny, aromatic, and all together good.  To this cheese Ellul grates mercilessly, and the Cougar crumbles under his edge.  For the record, Ellul can’t have that last hunk of white gold, the essence and core of my precious systems.  Not, at least, without  risking knuckle blood.

Ellul is into the Spirit of God, and for a long time now, I have not been.  This is because the Spirit is like a wind, and wind is difficult to contain.  The sacraments are containable, apostolic succession is containable, buildings, liturgies, philosophies, theologies- all are containable, and I, as a Reformed guy, am committed to containing things.  But, in actuality, I am attempting to contain wind. The Spirit whistles through, around, and often in the containers.  The paradox God places me in requires the construction of sturdy containers, but the wind Himself, the lifeblood of the systems, cannot be contained.  I must know this and respond with gratitude, for what if I could corral the Spirit?  What if He were at every baptism that now takes place?  That leaves some unanswered questions.  What if He were in one system of theology?  Who gets to write that baby?  What if He were in the bread, whether we consumed it or not?  What if He could be found in buildings or in icons?

God save the presumptious high churches. The joke is on them- the Spirit is like a wind, not like letters of succession and long standing traditions.  The wind often occupies humble abodes: gyms, strip malls, conference rooms and homes. His work, more often than not, is accomplished through vessels with stupid and erroneous theologies.

So, read Ellul, and him against tidy Christian containers of philosophy, theology, liturgy, politics, moralism, indeed, against “christian” as an adjective.  The substance of our faith is not a view of the world, a belief set, or an experience.  God lives in me.  I am an ethic!  I am a politic!  I am a vessel of God.

Here’s your lesson: “If we tried to abolish the word, Christianity, what would we have to say?  First, the revelation and work of God accomplished in Jesus Christ, second, the being of the church as the body of Christ, and third, the faith and life of Christians in truth and love…We need keep the word Christianity only for the ideological and sociological movement which is its perversion.”

Amen and Amen.

More on Self-Deception

October 1, 2009

We are all the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son, until we realize that we are all the younger brother in actuality.  This realization allows us to shed our older brother “righteousness” and recognize that we are the forgiven prodigal- freeing us from the bondage of self-righteousness to love God and others as only a prodigal can.

A really good book.  Subtle and thorough, so I’ll keep this short:  There are people in your life who drain you, who prompt feelings of resentment or guilt.  They could be co-workers, family, friends, or clients.  You don’t understand why they are the way they are.  You have significant trouble appreciating them.  This book’s message is successful if it brings you from this negative perspective to a breaking point at which you reverse your perspective, view yourself as a significant contributor to the negativity of a relationship, and find yourself loving the unlovely in your life, which is a heck of a lot easier than resenting them.

Moralism

September 26, 2009

The church is full of hypocrites.  That used to bother me a lot more than it does now.  The revelation that changed my mind about hypocrites was the one that revealed me as a hypocrite.  This was actually refreshing.  The sham is over.  I’m a hypocrite.  This is not godly, of course.  This is contra-Spirit.  But it is also inescapable in this life.  And, I’ve got good company.  All God’s heroes are fumbling hypocrites.  Moses told us not to murder!?  David was a man after God’s own heart!?  Really?  Paul gets to be an apostle? Abraham had sex with his wife’s maid, and he still gets to be the father of our faith?!  How many good fathers and husbands are among the patriarchs?

Until we read the story, see the characters in all their immature dirtiness, and close the book laughing with joy and resolve to keep the faith then we haven’t really seen the faith for what God has made it.

Moralism

September 26, 2009

Moralism is a system of morals that can, in theory, be brought to bear on any given individual as a standard for judgment.  Christianity, as a system of religous dogma, possesses a moralism.  Such systems are sufficient for condemning men, nothing more.  Holiness, however is a different story.  Holiness is a calling of separation.  Separation by God’s hand.  God selects individuals, fills them with His Spirit, and sets them back amongst their coinhabitants.  They don’t possess a system of morals, that’s what the unsaved, the unholy are left with.  They possess God Himself.  Any moral rightness is rooted in the gift from God.  Thus Christians should be completely humble.  They should be confident in their gift, but always recognizing it as a gift.  The difference between the Christian and the God-hating, homozexual, pro-choice advocate is the gift of the Spirit.  Nothing more.

Jim Miller

September 4, 2009

I think it was Jim Miller who encouraged guilt-ridden, introspective sinners to just “relax…Because you are a lot worse than you think you are.”  You know you’re coming closer to understanding the gospel when you’re relieved to see the depths of your own sinfulness.   Compassion is not far behind such an understanding.

Love covers…

September 3, 2009

If you are not motivated to serve the poor by love of God or neighbor- then don’t.

If you don’t see your sins reflected physically in those who can’t hide their sins and the sins comitted against them, then you don’t see yourself and you really can’t help.  If you can’t love them as Christ loved you, then go somewhere else where your righteousness is less insulting.  If you don’t love the ugly, perverse, beaten, unruly, stinking, dangerous, foolish and irresponsible among us, then you don’t undertand the extent of God’s reach to save you, so how can anyone expect for you to reach very far in return?

Luke 18:10-14

September 1, 2009

God, I thank you that I am not like other men: drunkards, impoverished, homeless.  I thank you that I am not like wife-beaters and child-abusers.  I’m not like irresponsible men, men addicted to drugs, lazy men, and men who are sexual infidels.  I’m not ignorant or confused like other men.  I’m not like other men.

Antithesis:

September 1, 2009

The fundamental difference between one man and another is whether or not he is united in Spirit to the God of the Universe and destined for eternal life.

So, there’s two kinds of white trash. One kind is united to our common Lord and Saviour and will worship with us in Heaven forever. There’s two kinds of homeless. Two kinds of prisoner, only two kinds of wealthy, poor, communist, republican, soldier, democrat, bus driver, skinhead, hippie, Chinese, Nazi, black man, policeman, garbage man, stranger, hungry, naked, politician, writer, mentally ill, lame, Iranian, Iraqi, Swede, and addicted- and one of them shares with me the Lord Jesus Christ.

Against Charity

August 29, 2009

“In the fourth and fifth centuries, then, we see a slide away from love and grace to service and ‘social action.’ But this completely changes the Christian perspective.  And it correlates with the rise of the institution, the break between a clergy of priests and a laypeople, and the dominance within the church of the rich and powerful.  A break also comes between those who show a concern for others, who render service, who give expression to charity, and those with whom they are concerned, who are the occasion of charity, to whom they render service.  This was the real break in the church…there are examples of the rich who give up all things, who become poor for God.  They did exist.  But in doing this, they either chose the hermit life and withdrew from the life of the church, or they were canonized and held up as miraculous instances of sanctity, that is, they were excluded from the concrete life of the church, set outside the church as ‘saints’ whom, of course, there was no question of ordinary people ever imitating.”  (Ellul, Subversion of Christianity, p. 32)

The Two Great Commandments

August 28, 2009

Loving God and loving your neighbor are one exercise when applied to a member of the body of Christ.  “As you have done unto the least of these my brethren, so you have done unto Me.” (Matt. 25)

Ellul

August 27, 2009

“…it is almost certain historically that when there is a process of desacralization, the very factor that produces it gives birth to a new form of the sacred. It is as if we invest with the sacred the very power that triumphs over the previous form of it. A more powerful god is needed to overcome the older god, and it is thus normal to recognize the conquering god as the true god. I regard this as a veritable ‘law’ of the sacred.”

That explains a lot of protestant problems.

Apologetics

August 27, 2009

Toby Sumpter once told me about a lecturer at his seminary who suggested that the work of the Holy Spirit was not required to hold together a typically homogenous American church.  It does take a miracle for a church to remain united in spite of great disparity among her people.  You know you’ve got something supernatural going on when your church can’t be profiled demographically.

This leads me to apologetics.  The above exhortation to be diverse locally stands, but the church universal is another matter.  Perhaps the greatest apology for our faith is the irrationality of our composition.  When I googled “for Jesus”  and left the subject to google’s imagination, I was given these crazy results:

Hookers for Jesus, Atheists for Jesus, Jews for Jesus, Metal for Jesus, Drummers for Jesus, Goths for Jesus, Workers for Jesus, Road Riders for Jesus, Puppets for Jesus, Ex-masons for Jesus, Mxers for Jesus, Soldiers for Jesus, Juggler for Jesus, Racing for Jesus, Millionaires for Jesus, Cowboys for Jesus, Teens for Jesus, Clowns for Jesus, and Trucking for Jesus.

Here’s how we know our faith is authentic.  The church is a reasonable argument for the Triune God.  It’s diversity of characters and its unity in being “for Jesus” is an apologetic for the Trinity’s existence, composition,  and personal, life-saving work.

“…for Buddha” and “…for Allah” did not return similar results.

Anonymous

August 25, 2009

“We’ve got to unite ourselves as one body. Because Jesus is coming back, and he’s coming back for a bride, not a harem.” Or a dismembered wife, which would also be disappointing.

Paul’s Parting Words

August 15, 2009

Also in the aforementioned lecture, “Paul tells the Ephesian elders in his farewell address that he has taught them the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). It is highly significant, then, that in his very last words, Paul exhorts them to give to the weak and poor (v. 35). Not only did Paul consider mercy to the poor as part of the ‘whole counsel of God’, but he deemed it so crucial as to make it the very last piece of teaching he gave them.”

Tim Keller says, “Abraham’s seed (through Joseph) first becomes a blessing to the nations through a hunger relief program…” (in a lecture given to a Campus Crusade conference in the summer of 2009)

Why a blog?

August 14, 2009

Because my thoughts are insightful, brilliant and original.  Also, I’m not smart enough to write anything worth distributing to people who ask for my thoughts.  I figure a blog is a good place for people who want to see my writing (and there are at least three I could name, with only one being my dear mother), and this without the presumption and work of trying to publish something on paper.   That’s it, I’m done thinking about it.